11 Jun 2015

Dunedin counts cost of deluge

8:58 am on 11 June 2015

One week on from Dunedin's one in 100 year flood, agencies are getting many requests from families who need help.

Flooding in Dunedin's Surrey Street in early June.

Flooding in Dunedin's Surrey Street. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Volunteers and Dunedin City Council staff went door-knocking yesterday to gauge how many people are living in flood-damaged homes.

The council has also launched a flood appeal, and on Tuesday opened a recovery assistance centre.

About two month's worth of rain fell in 24 hours last Wednesday, flooding hundreds of homes and shops in south Dunedin.

The day after the deluge, council staff knocked on 200 doors in the worst affected areas and found just four homes with serious damage.

Yesterday, with the help of volunteers, they knocked on 6000.

Recovery manager Ruth Stokes said the council had not underestimated the extent of the damage.

"I think it's just a case of actually understanding how it's affected people," she said.

"There are a lot of people who will have just got on with it and dealt with their insurers and moved out but it's really getting a sense of how many people still need help."

Flooding in south Dunedin on Wednesday 3 June.

Emergency services were kept busy last week. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

But Labour's Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said the council's response was too slow.

"It's a week after the event and there's many people spending a week in their cold, wet houses - some of them without assistance," she said.

"The council's response, as of today, has been very comprehensive, [but] I would like to have seen that response wheel into action the day after the flood."

Reluctance to ask for help

Clare Curran said many were trying to tough it out.

"You've got to understand that there's a particular character of people in south Dunedin - people who don't normally ask for help, they just get on with it," she said.

"They're not sticking their hands up but do need to be contacted and given assistance and told that there's assistance available."

Ruth Stokes said the drive to put a number on those still suffering was spurred by social service agencies.

"[The agencies] are getting a lot of requests for help from families who need to relocate, who need food assistance, who need heating and furniture," she said.

"We're also coming across, just about every day, elderly people who don't want to be a bother but whose homes have been seriously affected."

Counting the costs

One cleaning service, Jae Carpets, said it has had claims from 528 homes for water-damaged carpets.

Surrey St, South Dunedin.

Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Rental agencies Nidd Realty, LJ Hooker, and Cutlers all said they have had between five and seven properties which have had to be vacated.

Principal of south Dunedin's Bathgate Park School, Whetu Cormick, said about 10 percent of the school roll had been badly affected.

"We've got families who have lost everything ... who have had to leave their homes," he said.

"There are families who are still living in flooded houses in wet, damp conditions."

In terms of the cost of the damage, the Insurance Council said it would have some idea in six weeks, while the Dunedin City Council said it still had no clue.

But its roading maintenance manager Peter Standring said it could cost up to $500,000 to repair one slip alone.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs